Nebraska is running smoothly, thank you.
Operating on all cylinders for the first time this season, No. 2 Nebraska showed why it is the team of the '90s, powering to a 55-7 rout of No. 9 Washington on Saturday."It was our intention to build some confidence in the running game, to run at them," Huskers coach Frank Solich said after his team piled up 434 yards on the ground. "We ran the option well, then we threw in the power game, and we didn't have to throw in too many passes."
And that's because DeAngelo Evans and Bobby Newcombe returned from injuries and ran for three touchdowns apiece and the Cornhuskers produced six turnovers in extending the nation's longest winning streak to 18 games.
"It was kind of a fairy-tale thing," said Evans, who had touchdown runs of 60, 14 and 19 yards and finished with 146 yards in 13 carries in his first game since 1996. "Everything worked out well. I was nervous, but I felt relaxed. When I got the first hit, all that went away."
The same was true for Newcombe, the flashy quarterback who returned after missing two games with a knee injury. Newcombe scored from 3 yards out on the opening drive as the Huskers built a 35-7 halftime lead, and added two 2-yard TD runs in the third quarter before leaving.
"Me and DeAngelo talk quite a bit about making the first guy miss, maybe making the first two guys miss," said Newcombe, who ran the option to perfection with 14 carries for 79 yards and added five completions in eight attempts for 84 yards. "We have quite a bit of confidence in ourselves. I think that showed today."
Washington (2-1) was never in the game, trailing 35-0 before a late first-half TD, and the 48-point loss was its worst since 1975, when Alabama beat the Huskies 52-0.
"Coming in I felt good, but `Oh, man,' " said Huard, who was 18-of-32 for 160 yards, one TD, two interceptions and two fumbles. "It's one thing to lose, it's quite another to get blown out."
Evans and Newcombe had plenty of help from teammates returning from injuries. On defense, tackle Jason Wiltz was back from an ankle problem and intercepted a pass by Huard to set up a TD. And end Mike Rucker, out the past two games with a groin injury, harassed Huard all day and caused him to fumble early in the third period to set up another TD.
In extending their home winning streak to 45 games, the Cornhuskers also avenged their last loss at Memorial Stadium - a 36-21 defeat by the Huskies on Sept. 21, 1991. Nebraska, which has won or shared a national title three of the past four years, also improved to 11-0 against Top 10 teams since a loss to Florida State in the 1994 Orange Bowl.
Even though the game was a match of Top 10 teams, the Huskies were no match for the Huskers in Solich's first "big game" test.
Huard, so eager for a second chance at Nebraska after a sprained ankle in the first quarter knocked him out of last year's 27-14 loss at Seattle, rarely had time to throw. The Huskers mixed blitzes and pass coverages so well, the left-handed quarterback either overthrew receivers or ran for his life.